Why Won’t You Change?


Here’s the problem. You’re in a love relationship. You’re pretty satisfied except for a couple of things about your partner. You would like him or her to change.

You’ve tried talking about it on a couple of occasions. He or she got defensive. Nothing changed. Your love for him or her would be so much deeper if he or she would only change. Why won’t you change?

For most lovers who have asked this question, the next question is: Can I change him or her? What can I do to make him or her change?

Can I persuade? Can I convince? Can I force him or her to try something new or different? Suppose I threaten to leave? Suppose I threaten to go out with someone else?

If you go down this road you’re turning your frustration into ‘bullying’ your partner. You’re using ‘control’ and ‘threats’ to force your partner to change. Even if you were to succeed, the outcome would be less that what you want, I can assure you.

Let’s say you’re in a relationship with someone who is passive or submissive or simply tries to give you everything you want. Forcing him or her to do something against his or her will, only breeds ‘resentment’ in the long run. This is human nature.

When the resentment builds other things in your relationship will start to suffer and breakdown. Passive people who go against their own will usually let their controllers know how they feel indirectly, perhaps in other areas of the relationship. So this isn’t going to work very well.

Plus, if you start to control your partner, bullying him or her into what you want him or her to be, to feel, to do, after a while you yourself will start to suffer from, you guessed it, resentment. Why?

Look at all the work you’re doing to get a little love. And it’s not even love given to you willingly and independently of your control. In other words, you’ll become acutely aware that you’re forcing your partner to love you. Let’s face it, that’s never satisfying.

OK here’s the thing to remember, ready? You can’t make someone love you. Forget it. You have a better chance finding someone who loves you willingly, than making someone love you the ‘right way’ who doesn’t love you the way you want them to.

The same applies to who your partner is as a person. You can’t make your partner change. He or she is who he or she is.

Now I don’t expect this to be easy. When you need someone, it’s harder to just accept the way he or she is and go on with your relationship. This I know very well.

You may have a bunch of historical reasons for wanting your partner to think, feel, and do things in your relationship in a certain way. You probably do. I’m sorry to say, that’s your emotional baggage, not his or hers.

It’s a lot easier to be with someone and ‘accept’ the someone you’re with. This means making peace with the fact that he or she is a certain way.

If they stay that way there is a certain choice involved in the matter. It may not look that way, and people sometimes act like they are not in control of their lives, but I assure you we are all setting things up the way we want them.

If you’re fighting with the person you’re trying to love because you can’t accept something about him or her, stop for a moment and ask yourself this question: Can I live with it?

If the answer is yes, practice accepting the fact and go back to concentrating on being yourself in the relationship. Stop trying to control him or her, and bring your efforts back to controlling yourself. Peace will return to your relationship and your stress level will certainly decrease.

By the way, sometimes, when you stop trying to change a person and change yourself instead, he or she moves closer to you, and sometimes, makes the desired change on his or her own. Sometimes. You can’t expect this, you have to live with the possibility this may never happen, and enjoy the other parts of the relationship you are satisfied with.

If your answer to the question: Can I live with it? is no, don’t waste your time. You’ll need your energy to get out and find someone who will be closer to your hopefully ‘realistic’ expectations. At least, those expectations you now know you can’t live without.

Comments? Welcome. Dr. Tom Jordan


Dr. Jordan

Dr. Thomas Jordan is a clinical psychologist, certified interpersonal psychoanalyst, author, professor, and love life researcher.

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